The go-ahead for a new Thames crossing at Silvertown, given today (10 May 2018) by the Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling MP, has been welcomed by the Freight Transport Association (FTA), which represents the interests of the logistics industry.
According to Natalie Chapman, Head of Urban Policy at FTA, the news of a new cross-river road link will provide a welcome boost to businesses in East London and beyond, but should ideally be the first step in a programme of work designed to improve connectivity for traffic across the area: “The new crossing at Silvertown will provide welcome relief for those moving goods and services across the Thames in and around East London,” she says. “For too long, the Blackwall Tunnel has acted as a key pinch point on the capital’s road network, with its long-term congestion problems and air quality issues causing misery for those using the route and those living nearby.
“East London is a key growth area for the capital in terms of construction and employment, and the new Silvertown Tunnel is a priority connection which FTA has campaigned strongly for, to ensure that businesses and householders can be properly served with the goods and services that they need. It is vital that the construction of the link gets under way quickly, but this should only be the start for improvement of the road network and links between the North and South banks of the Thames.
“FTA has long supported proposals for additional crossings at Gallions Reach and Belvedere, to create a network of crossings which would spread the burden of traffic across a number of routes. The resulting shorter and more cost-efficient journeys would be of great benefit to business and consumers alike, and we urge the Mayor and Transport for London to identify ways in which the additional connections could be constructed, to keep London and its businesses moving efficiently.”
The concentration of traffic in and around the Blackwall Tunnel, and along its most congested approaches, has been identified as the source of poor air quality for those living in the area, while the cost of idling in traffic queues for HGVs using the link has been estimated at £1 a minute. And, as Ms Chapman explains, construction of additional crossings would ensure that London’s businesses and homeowners could be supported with a network of options for logistics operators:
“Stop-start traffic has a hugely detrimental impact on fuel consumption and emissions,” she continues, “but with so few opportunities to cross the Thames currently open to logistics operators, the Blackwall Tunnel currently creates as many problems as it solves. By building a network of crossings along the eastern reaches of the Thames, TfL would ensure that journey times would be reduced, and the burden of costs, as well as health risks, could be reduced significantly.
“Many journeys made in the London area are for essential services or deliveries. It is vital that any user charging for the new link takes into account the economic value of the journey, so that the freight industry does not shoulder the burden of cost for the entire project.
“The Silvertown Tunnel will give London’s freight operators an additional option when servicing the needs of the capital’s 24-hour economy, but should be the start of improvements for the area, not the only solution offered. We look forward to working with TfL to ensure that trade can continue to flow in and out of the capital as swiftly and efficiently as possible, and help to maintain London’s position at the heart of the nation’s trading relationships.”
For more information about the Silvertown Tunnel, which is set to link the Greenwich Peninsula and Silvertown, please visit https://tfl.gov.uk/travel-information/improvements-and-projects/silvertown-tunnel?cid=silvertown-tunnel
Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.